- Monday, 12 December 2016 05:35
The end of year is coming and four months ago I thought that by today my future would be clear. Well...not even close. Indecision is probably for me the toughest feeling to experience.
In September I started a process of finding what I personally enjoy and love doing outside of the world of rowing. After 17 years of rowing including 14 at high level, it is complicated to simply move on. The transition can be scary and it scares me. It scares me because I am not sure if I am really done with rowing at the Olympics. My indecision is the main problem. I don’t know if I want keep going or if I retire for the right reasons. Frustration and pain are deeply rooted in me after my “no-performance” in Rio. I have the feeling that Rio doesn’t represent who I am as an athlete. And that’s where things start to twist. The whole team has the feeling that our performance was stolen and it is in contradiction with our individual effort and value.
We all know that rowing is not about the sum of individuals. It would be too easy. It takes some kind of magic and outstanding individuals that you bring together. Clearly our team has outstanding individuals but not the alchemy that only can transform a group of ones in a team of one. The more I reflect on it and the more I see the details that went sideways. Management, team environment, and the way we looked at performance on the water! I don’t think it was in line with winning in the end.
So here I am at 30 years old contemplating our team’s slump and thinking that this could be the perfect breeding ground made of anger, passion, will power, frustration, tears, “never-again”. From this fertile ground could raise an incredible performance in 2020. I can feel it. I can see it. Every time we get together in small groups, I can feel this muffled and strong force in my teammates. The do or die effect. It wouldn’t be the first time that something like this happens in Canada. In 1988 and 2004, the Men’s eight failed in their final to only come back four years later and win. Failure can be a powerful engine but it has to be driven in the right direction otherwise the risk of wasting energy and aim for the wrong goal is too high.
I also know the personal cost of a choice that would bring me back on the water. A quadrennial of full commitment, of family compromises, of physical problems, of pain and sweat to help a team without any safety net or guaranty of success. It is the price to pay. Victories are sweeter but defeats more painful.
Since September, I have tried to move on and I have explored my opportunities and my dreams. After a first run of successful tests in Victoria, I was sent to Trenton CFB in Ontario for Air Crew selection to become a pilot in the Canadian Air Force. After two days of intense mental testing, I failed short and was told that I was a few millimeters too tall to fit military and training aircrafts. I went back home straight away.
I keep myself busy. I coach Junior B girls (U17) at Victoria City Rowing Club and really enjoy it. We bought a beautiful ocean front property, which is also a dream coming true. I row, run and bike kept 4 to 5 times per week to stay fit. And on top of it, I am actively looking for a job. But my indecision makes it very hard because I don’t know if I want to commit to something for more than 1 or 2 years or if working is actually going to help me to move on to the next chapter. I feel like I am still licking my wounds.
January is coming around and I still haven’t made any clear decision. Nothing is sure on Rowing Canada’s side as we speak. It is out of my control. Coaching? Environment? Priority boat? Program? Support? I don’t have clear answers. So I might carefully keep a foot in and like Saint Thomas I will believe what I see.
I trust my capacity to come back at my best within a few months and I proved it in the past. If I come back it is going to be for an adventure XXXL!
As always, “the adventure goes on...”